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Stereotype of the Month Entry

From the LA Times, 6/1/01:

Old-West Tale Sets Off a Relentless Stampede of Cowboy Cliches

CODE OF THE WEST; by Aaron Latham; Simon & Schuster; $26, 496 pages

By ANTHONY DAY, Special to The Times

"Code of the West" is heap big silly novel. Me no like um. But make heap big silly movie.

Aaron Latham, a New York screenwriter and novelist with "Urban Cowboy" to his credit, has ranged through the real and imagined history of 19th century Texas cattlemen, plucking characters, incidents and plots to stuff into this grab bag of well-worn cliches. The characters are cardboard Western, and they talk like it:

"Ain't this the purdiest sight you ever see in your life?" cries the leading character, Jimmy Goodnight, as he and his fellow cowboys stand on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. It's always "purdy" and "nowheres" and "that there" and "kilt" in Latham's Texas talk. There are never any g's on progressive verbs or gerunds, except when he forgets, and a "pretty" or a "nowhere" slips by.

Jimmy Goodnight was kidnapped as a young boy and raised by a band of Comanches. Latham's Comanche talk is a wonder to behold. Here is young Jimmy speaking, in Comanche, to a thick cluster of bees on a horehound plant whose leaves he needs to cure a Comanche woman's barrenness:

"You no hurt, I no hurt—I no take all leaves. No hurt. I no kill plants. No hurt. I leave much flowers. No hurt. They make much seeds. No hurt. Much friends of the childless woman next year. No hurt. We share. No hurt. No hurt. No hurt."

Needless to say, the bees let him pick the leaves.

Rob's comment
The stereotype here is the primitive Tonto talk. Amazing that a major publisher thinks it can get away with that kind of discrimination in the 21st century.

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